Carrying Nuernberger's legacy on to the moon and back

(A full video of the dedication ceremony is coming soon.)


Donning their new black and gold Nighthawks shirts with the saying “To the moon and back”, students and staff celebrated the dedication of the Nuernberger Education Center with his family and the community on Sunday, October 9.

“When thinking about speaking on this day, the one word that kept coming into my head was legacy,” said principal Jaime Bodeker. “The very existence of this building is the continuation of the legacy inherent in Lincoln Public Schools, in the community in which we live, and I believe it's part of the legacy, if he were alive right now, Judge Nuernberger would be proud of today.”

Judge Bill Nuernberger was the first judge to serve on a separate Juvenile Court in Lancaster County. In that role, Nuernberger advocated that young people need a separate court and worked tirelessly, both in his professional and personal life, to better the lives of all children in the community.

The 2016-2017 school year is the inaugural year for the Nuernberger Education Center which houses two programs - a student support program and a program that serves students sixth through eighth grades who have been referred from other middle schools within LPS.

Other speakers during the program highlighted the dedication Nuernberger had to the support of today’s youth:

  • Steve Joel, superintendent: “The Nuernberger school is aligned with the Nuernberger philosophy. It’s that philosophy that we never give up on young people. We never give up on those students that maybe historically were predestined for failure, because we know that with appropriate supports and passions, commitment and dedication and love, that they can turn around. Just like they did when they left his court, they could go through one or two or three ways. I have to believe that gave him the greatest sense of pride, and we are taking that same amount of pride in this building today.”

  • Kathy Danek, school board member: “To the family of Judge Nuernberger, this facility stands as an outward sign of the life-long commitment to the success of children. It's about picking them up when they fall down. Helping them see that their actions can really help them be successful. It’s about ensuring that no child is ever discarded, but rather that they are nurtured and educated while giving the tools of control and self respect for themselves and others.”

  • Marian Nuernberger, wife: “We’re so glad we have this opportunity to thank those of you who never gave up honoring Bill with his name on an education center. As we have said before, we feel it is a perfect match and Bill would be so please and proud.”

  • De Ann Currin, daughter and principal at Sheridan Elementary School: “Dad would want the students to know that everyone has setbacks and loss and hardship in their lives. If you focus on what’s possible and what’s positive, you can set goals for yourself. The adults are here to support you as you learn what you need to rise fresh each morning, ready for hard work and to keep trying... Dad believed in the gift of each individual and he believed in never giving up. We love all of you to the moon and back. Thank you, Nighthawks.”

  • Robert Polfus, eighth grade student: “Personally, I never had the chance to meet Mr. Nuernberger, but from what I’ve learned, he was a pretty great guy... Mr. Nuernberger worked with any student no matter the challenge or the struggle. He would help kids persevere through hard times to achieve greatness...It is a wonderful feeling being one of the first students in this building dedicated to the memory of Mr. Nuernberger...I’m one of those students Mr. Nuernberger would have believed in and helped overcome my challenges.”

  • Jenny Fundus, director of special education: "It is quite an honor to share Bill's legacy with the Nuernberger family. I heard that he has cared so much about the community and the young people here at Lincoln Public Schools... To the students, you are truly one of the best groups of students that I get to know and work with at Lincoln Public Schools. You come to school every single day with the attitude that you are going to maximize your learning, and I am so excited to watch you grow as young adults in our community."

Students from the sixth grade choir sang the “Star-Spangled Banner”, “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, and “Knowledge is Power.”

Published: October 10, 2016, Updated: October 10, 2016

“The Nuernberger school is aligned with the Nuernberger philosophy. It’s that philosophy that we never give up on young people."

Steve Joel, superintendent